Two Lashkar militants, including Bashir Ahmad Wani, who was allegedly involved in the killing of SHO Feroz Ahmad Dar and five other policemen in Anantnag district last month, were killed in an encounter in Dailgam village of the district on Saturday. Two civilians, Tahira Begum, 43, and Shadab Ahmad Chopan, 21, were also killed and over 30 villagers injured when police fired pellets and bullets at villagers who had gathered to protest against the operation. Police said the protesters were trying to march towards Brenti-Batpora area in Dailgam to disrupt the operation and create a safe passage for the militants.
Confirming that Bashir Ahmad Wani alias Bashir Lashkari alias Abu Ukasha was among the two militants who were killed, Director General of Police S P Vaid said: “Bashir was involved in the killing of Station House Officer Feroz Ahmad Dar and five other policemen. He was a wanted militant and police were looking for him.” According to sources, security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in Brenti-Batpora, about five kilometres from Anantnag town, on Saturday morning. While the operation was in progress, they reportedly received information that Wani was inside a house at Dailgam. The security forces then intensified the search operation.
Police said that the family living in the house and other villagers tried to delay the encounter by remaining inside, even as protesters tried to march to the area. At around 11:30 am, when all the civilians finally left the house, the forces launched a full-fledged operation.
The bodies of two militants, along with two weapons, were later recovered from the encounter site. The other militant has been identified as Abu Maaz of Pakistan. Police termed the death of Wani, one of the oldest militants and the Lashkar’s ‘district commander’ in Anantnag, as a big success. The hunt for Wani, identified as an ‘A+++ category’ militant, intensified after police named him in the killing of SHO Dar and five other policemen. Security forces had launched six operations in the last fortnight to track him, including in his village of Sopshalo in Kokernag.
According to the police, Wani joined militancy in 2001. He was arrested, but joined militant ranks again in 2008 after his release. He was again arrested, and, after his release, joined the Lashkar in 2015.